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Advocacy Services and Support from the ACP Washington Office
Advocacy is an important part of the College’s strategic efforts to effect policy changes that will make a difference in ACP members’ daily work, professional development, and their patients’ health. The key to this is member/chapter support and involvement in advocating for issues that affect patients and the practice of medicine and are consistent with ACP policy.
While advocacy is mostly focused at the federal level, ACP believes that ACP chapter advocacy is essential, and while ACP does not systematically monitor or have the capacity to analyze specific state-level legislation/regulations, we are available to help chapters and members that would like to become more involved in advocacy in the areas identified below. ACP members should first contact their state chapter governor for guidance, if they have specific questions on a state/local issue or are interested in getting involved in advocacy at the local level, as the chapter may already be engaged on that issue.
For any and all chapter inquiries not addressed by your chapter governor or through the guidance below, we ask that you please complete this brief questionnaire so that ACP National can respond in the most efficient and timely manner possible.
- Advocacy at the Federal Level
- Advocacy at the State Level
- Advocacy through the Mainstream Media/Social Media
Advocacy at the Federal Level – ACP National Office can:
- Develop issue briefs/sample letters/talking points on ACP priority issues on the federal level for use in advocating with members of Congress. Materials will be provided through ACP’s Legislative Action Center (LAC) or the Leadership Day homepage.
- Alert chapters to important and timely legislative issues in Congress with request for their engagement through ACP’s LAC.
- Provide educational and promotional materials on ACP’s Advocates for Internal Medicine Network (AIMn), which is its grassroots advocacy program. Materials include sample promotional language on the AIMn program for use in chapter newsletters, sample slides on the program for chapter meetings, and AIMn brochures.
- Host state health policy webinars by ACP National on important and timely federal policies that also have implications at the state level.
- Assist in setting up meetings with members of Congress while in the district.
- Draft summaries of important federal regulations as a resource for chapters.
- Create mechanisms that enable chapters to provide feedback to ACP National on important and often time-sensitive federal regulations/policies.
Advocacy at the State Level – ACP National Office can:
- Feature important state-level issues as an integral part of ACP National’s hosting of State Health Policy webinars.
- Develop toolkits on federal policies the College deems ripe for advocacy at the state level and in state legislatures. Materials will be made available on ACP’s state health policy webpage.
- Provide tips and other materials to build an effective advocacy strategy on the state level.
ACP National often receives inquiries regarding the ability of state chapters to engage in state-level issues independent of ACP National. To assist in chapter decision-making on how best to do this, ACP National provides the following guidance:
- On any state-level issue, chapters have wide discretion to exercise their best judgment, informed by ACP policy; if they have a question about ACP policy, we encourage them to first check the ACP policy compendium, which is a compilation “in brief” of ACP’s policies across the policy spectrum. Based on policies in ACP’s papers, state chapters are:
- Empowered to join in efforts at the state level to influence state bills, laws, and regulations that are consistent with ACP policy, without having to get permission from ACP National.
- Not allowed to take positions or make public statements on bills, regulations, and policies at a national/federal or state level that are contrary to ACP national policy.
- Allowed to take positions on bills, regulations, and policies at the state level where ACP National has no policy. However, in such instances where a state chapter wants to take a position and advocate on federal or state policy and ACP National has no policy position, the state chapter should confer with ACP National before advocating by reaching out via this questionnaire.
When requested by the ACP Governor and when ACP has existing policy, ACP National may engage in state-level issues (e.g., write a letter presenting ACP's position on an issue; join an amicus brief; present testimony). ACP National’s activity may be in concert with the chapter (e.g., joint letter) or from ACP National only (e.g., letter from ACP’s President, joining an amicus brief).
ACP National may, on a selective basis, communicate its views directly to individual state legislative bodies, regulators, and the governors of those states on high priority issues, where the actions taken by the state can directly support or undermine established College policy and have potential national implications. Whenever possible (if time permits), ACP will consult with the chapter governor(s) in those states before taking such action to get their perspectives, and the perspectives of their chapter councils.
While ACP’s strong preference is to not take actions on state issues without the support or concurrence of the ACP chapter governors and their councils, taking such action may be necessary at times to further ACP’s national policy goals. In such cases, input may be sought from the ECBOR and ACP's reasons will be communicated in advance to the chapter governor.
Advocacy through the Mainstream Media/Social Media – ACP National Office can:
- Provide talking points on federal policies for use in letters-to-the-editor or op-eds for local media.
- Assist in identifying local media contacts for chapters’ use in advocacy at the federal and state level.
- Provide sample tweets/social media posts on policy issues for chapters to use in advocacy on the federal level.
In certain situations, ACP may issue press releases or other statements directed at the news media from the national office that reference issues pertaining to a specific state or states, usually in instances where a policy or legislation being discussed at the state level has the potential for national implications moving forward. When these situations arise, the ACP National office will contact the governor(s) in the state(s) that are mentioned or referenced to notify them that ACP National is distributing a press release or statement, using the following process:
- ACP Public Relations staff will contact the affected governor(s) through email to alert and inform them that ACP national is distributing a press release or statement and will attach the approved communication. These press releases or statements from the ACP national office will be distributed to the ACP national media list, not to state specific media outlets.
- ACP staff will strive to notify affected governor(s) prior to distribution to the national news media, posting to the ACPOnline.org website, and announcement through ACP national social media platforms. However, in some instances due to timing constraints and the need for ACP to issue a statement/press release as soon as possible, the notification to affected governor(s) may happen concurrently with ACP national distributing and posting the statement or press release.
- Emails to the affected governor(s) will include contact information for the staff expert on the ACP policy and issue that is referenced in the press release or statement, should the governor(s) have questions about the policy or related press release or statement.
- Emails to the affected governor(s) will also request that should governor(s) receive feedback or communication from a chapter member about the ACP national press release or statement and require assistance in responding, to email ACP Public Relations staff to either assist in developing a response or have them respond on behalf of ACP national.
- Emails to the affected governor(s) will copy:
- The Vice President of Marketing and Communications
- The Director of Communications
- The Chief Operating Officer
- The Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy (or equivalent if it is from a different division),
- Director, Board of Governors & Chapter Activities and potentially other staff as appropriate and relevant
- In the case of a communication coming from a coalition or multi-stakeholder group, ACP will make the affected chapter governor aware as soon as practical following release of the statement.
For more information or assistance with any of the item(s) listed, please contact Shuan Tomlinson in the ACP Washington Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter Assistance Submission Checklist
Have you first consulted with your chapter governor to see whether the chapter is currently engaged in the issue in question?
Have you consulted the ACP Policy Compendium to determine if we have policy on the issue?
Have you consulted the State Health Policy Chapter Toolkits to see if we have a state advocacy toolkit on your issue?
If ACP does not have a policy position that addresses your issue, have you completed the Chapter Advocacy Assistance Request Form/Questionnaire?